Hero Exp Split- Bad Design or Really Bad Design?

By on May 1, 2013 4:02:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Burress

Join Date 06/2006
+15

I cannot understand the reason for this design decision. It seems to add needless complexity and discomfort for the player without being fun or making any sense.

First, the making sense part. Champions are people who become developmentally handicapped in the presence of other champions. They are smart as a whip sitting back and letting 6 squads dismantle the opposition, taking notes and learning the ways of uber-pwnage. But with two champions, what happens, is there only one pen and paper for the entire squad? Do they have to take turns writing and split up each other's notes afterwards?

I know this rule was instituted when it was discovered that champions were so powerful that you could beat the game with them without ever building units. This strategy offended those in power long ago, and since then champions were neutered with exp split, general exp decline, and spiced up with that just three to six crummy levels til I get the cool ability feeling. At the same time, units got an extreme buff, and now you can beat the game easily without ever using a champion (or having a champion be useful), but there is no outcry. What gives there?

Now there is the effect on the player. Players have to build an army for each champion, or resign themselves to just having fancy backstories to their unrest reduction in some city. The player must manage these multiple armies, which will never have enough map to level them all, all the while wondering, is this how Peter Venkman felt when Egon told him to never cross the streams? I mean you CAN use them together to win that hard battle (maybe against a giant marshmallow man), with all that juicy exp... which gets split up to the point its just one more stride on the long mile to level 10 or 12, or whatever level a champion actually will feel heroic at. Fellow champions are each other's kryptonite, which makes it a difficult strategic decision whether to use them together, but it's like a choice between crummy or crummier to the player.

This forces a player who knows the split exists to play with far more micromanagement and complexity in the hope, in my experience in vain anyway, that your heroes will eventually be, you know, heroic. I mean make it to the level ups that are fun (the ones that aren't +1-3 to a stat that doesn't make much difference). Players who don't know it exists will just wonder "why are the trees so long"?

I know this is a negative post, but hey, I strongly feel this is a bad decision through and through. The game will be better and more friendly and logical to every newbie, at the least. But I think it may even make people who are strategy diehards have fun teaming up heroes without having to worry about fighting 2-5 times as many battles to get where almost no champion but the sovereign gets in a normal game now. It makes sense and it is a fun, simple strategy to band champions together, and it is bad design to discourage logical, simple, fun gameplay. It is not unthinkable there was another way to encourage more complex gameplay without killing the fun rpg parts of the game or forcing players to juggle making and using many armies.

Btw, I think the game is great and should get deep and wide acclaim, but I think decisions like this endanger it to a possible dilution with "meh" because it doesn't pander to the most visceral and powerful source of fun in games with rpg aspects, the ego identification with heroes and the player's character. I have posted about this before, but basically every game that has ruled this genre has been at best a decent strategy game suped up with a fat layer of ego satisfaction. I think this is a great strategy game that has been drowning out its own ego attraction in the name of balance. 

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May 2, 2013 10:05:09 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Mistwraithe,

From a gameplay point of view the current mechanic means that so long as the player makes sure there is at least one hero in each battle then no XP is lost. If the player puts 3 heroes into a stack which defeats monsters worth 300XP then sure they only get 100XP each but in total 300XP was earned so all is good. This means it is entirely up to the player whether they want to group their heroes together or separate them out, they will earn the same XP either way. The player has a choice, both choices are valid, this is good for a strategy game.

If however you remove the hero XP splitting then there is a huge incentive for the player to put all of their heroes into a single stack. In the example above with 3 heroes in a stack defeating monsters worth 300XP the total XP earned would be 900XP whereas if the player only had 1 hero in the stack they would only earn 300XP. So it would be stupid for the player to do anything BUT stack all their heroes together. Choice is reduced, there is only one right way to use your heroes, this is BAD for a strategy game.


Ah? Well if that is how it works, I stand corrected, that sounds OK.

It is really not documented anywhere, but if all champs and troops get the XP divided amongst them, that sounds fine.

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May 2, 2013 10:16:03 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I know the arguments based on balance, numbers, and best implementations are there, but my point is an argument based on gameplay experience. Here are opportunities in the game juxtaposed with how I view them:

1. Hero arrives. Oh man, a hero has come to serve me! Great, I will put him to work! This is so awesome, there are no downsides to this! I can make him his own army and double the amount of exploring, or I can put him with my sovereign to get him some experience first. What great choices!

1'. Hero arrives. Do any of them have +research or +gildar? What about spellbooks? Ok, now I either have to spend 25 turns working in building a motley crew for the hero to roam with or just leave the guy in a city. I am so dissatisfied with the way the game works. Couldn't they at least arrive with their own army, if I have to send them out on their own anyway? No way I am putting him with my sovereign, I actually want to get someone to the endgame levels.

2. Level up. Wow, I leveled up already, bonus. Look at these choices, I have something I can use right now and notice it! And I will have something else the next level and the next level! These trees are great, I can see how much fun I am going to have level after level.

2' Level up. Finally. Look at these choices, I am going to have to level up 3 more times to get that skill I have been waiting for, and I won't ever even notice the bonuses I have to take to get there. This level took a long time, they only take longer and longer as you go along. Why are these trees so long? Are they taunting me with some kind of digital labor morality, I have to put in hard time if I want my game experience to be worthwhile? Do they know I am doing this instead of real labor?

These are key events in the experience of the game. They are NOT moments in time, they are what the player ruminates about in the time between. They last the whole game, and N' is a bad place, N is a good place. This is why games like MoM and AoW chose to be unbalanced instead of risking N'. This is a big deal, and that is why I chose a rather provocative way to present the argument.

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May 2, 2013 10:33:04 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The problem seems to be that you can hardly afford to field an army of every individual hero. While, with enough time, FELH can become almost broken with  practically infinite gildar and other resources much of the early and even mid game one seems to be running on fumes money-wise with unrest making the effect of many gildar producing buildings almost marginal. 

I believe I've seen LPs where a player has 5-6 cities but can barely afford a single full army group. There seems to be too much discrepancy between the late "omg I'm rolling in dough" and the early "oh god please let me have something" game. Not to mention that unit production still seems to be a big bother and  almost a last resort digression from building construction. 

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May 2, 2013 10:50:14 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

What's really needed is for the XP split to work differently.

 

It should be greatest with champions equal in level, and least when there's a wide difference in lvls between champs. 

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May 2, 2013 11:02:56 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Reply #27, #28 and #29 

 

 "Are they taunting me with some kind of digital labor morality, I have to put in hard time if I want my game experience to be worthwhile? Do they know I am doing this instead of real labor? " - Burress     


"If you don't eat your meat... you can't have any pudding! "


Other folks have mentioned a XP slider for game options... yes, please!!

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May 2, 2013 11:18:38 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The thing is that nothing you say is particularly new.  People have complained about heroes being too squishy forever.  People have complained about xp splitting forever.  And since they implemented the skill trees, people have complained about there being too many filler items.

Some of the issues with the skill trees will likely be resolved in the coming weeks.  But things like XP splitting and granting XP based on your army's relative power level are not going to change no matter how many angst-y posts people make on the subject.

Stardock, not you, are designing this game.  They have a rationale for their design decisions.  You may not like it and you (and many others) may disagree with them, but it's still their game.  They clearly listen to a lot of what we say here (which is awesome), but there are some core mechanics that they just aren't going to scrap at this point and the XP calculation is definitely one of them.

Now, because Stardock is awesome, they put a lot of effort into making their games very open for mods.  So if you love the idea of the game, but don't like Derick's design decisions, feel free to mod it. In fact, please mod it.

I myself am not a modder, but my understanding is that pretty much every complaint you have about the game can be addressed in a mod.  You can mod the skill trees to make them fit your ideas.  You can mod experience to make champs level faster.  Pretty sure you can make champs spawn with their own armies as well.

 

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May 2, 2013 11:26:23 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The point of a beta is to give feedback so changes can be made before the game releases. Those of us who don't like the XP split mechanic are giving our feedback, nothing wrong with that.

My opinion continues to be that forcing the player to the conclusion that parking most of your heroes in a city doing nothing for the whole game is the optimal choice is not fun game design. In this case I personally think the cure is worse than the disease.

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May 2, 2013 11:55:20 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting sweatyboatman,

The thing is that nothing you say is particularly new.  People have complained about heroes being too squishy forever.  People have complained about xp splitting forever.  And since they implemented the skill trees, people have complained about there being too many filler items.

Some of the issues with the skill trees will likely be resolved in the coming weeks.  But things like XP splitting and granting XP based on your army's relative power level are not going to change no matter how many angst-y posts people make on the subject.

Stardock, not you, are designing this game.  They have a rationale for their design decisions.  You may not like it and you (and many others) may disagree with them, but it's still their game.  They clearly listen to a lot of what we say here (which is awesome), but there are some core mechanics that they just aren't going to scrap at this point and the XP calculation is definitely one of them.

Now, because Stardock is awesome, they put a lot of effort into making their games very open for mods.  So if you love the idea of the game, but don't like Derick's design decisions, feel free to mod it. In fact, please mod it.

I myself am not a modder, but my understanding is that pretty much every complaint you have about the game can be addressed in a mod.  You can mod the skill trees to make them fit your ideas.  You can mod experience to make champs level faster.  Pretty sure you can make champs spawn with their own armies as well.

 

It's not a core mechanic, it's an equation or a modifier.  One they've changed before, when Derek first helped put FE together.  And while the game is mod-able, I want the game to score a 9/10 on Metacritc out of the box and garner positive press for this franchise and the good folks at SD.

And to do that you need {trumpet fanfare}... Legendary Heroes!

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May 2, 2013 12:16:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

@sweatyboatman

You are correct on many accounts. There have been many critical posts about champions. I just wanted to make one where I do my best to give as much forest perspective and as little tree-chopping as possible, and deliver it with as much punch as possible because I want it to get through. As for modding, it would take about minute's effort to "mod" out exp split. Put the file with all the champ data in an xml editing program, find all instances of champsplityada>1<yadda and change them to 0 and save. I am also not making the design decisions or the game. It is not my game.

It is only my game to play, yet how well it is received will likely affect whether Stardock puts out more expansions, how much resources they put in to those expansions, and what kind of game I can buy at the end of it. That metacritic number beside the LH page on Steam affects all of this. I think there is a theme that hasn't been explicitly stated well in many criticisms that the best games in this genre have used the rpg aspects in a way that magnifies a certain kind of deep fun, and if Stardock really utilized this theme consciously the game could be improved way out of proportion to the implementation cost.

If Stardock has a phenomenal hit, a game that can grab even reviewers, who play game after game (or sometimes don't lol) to write about for a living, then that metacritic score tops 90, people who don't usually play these games buy it and like it. But reviewers don't play the modded version of games.

They may make an expansion, throw more people at this game, and it may become even more of a crazy, cool game. They make a lot of money and receive well-deserved acclaim, I get a game I can wile away my summer and fall spare hours in a blissful pasttime. Win win. I may have to use biting criticism, humor, a cutting turn of phrase to do it, but it's all love anyway. I mean no one any harm. I just think I have a point, and I want to make it heard.

 

 

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May 2, 2013 12:20:08 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I personally do not mind the XP split all that much, although I appreciate the synergy some heroes give one another... Like Warrior and Healer(Mage). I would even like to run something like the holy trinity with the defender class getting a taunt ability, but that is probably just my nerdishness and the game certainly works well without it.

I believe that the grievances toward the XP split as it is implemented right now (to avoid the stack o' doom) stems more from the fact that there is too little XP for the length of the existing skill trees to go around. The grind after you cleared the monster lairs and the hero is somewhere between level 10-15 (small/medium maps) is just downright horrible to me, so bad in fact, that I haven't finished a single game of FE:LH after 50+ hours of gameplay.

Once it is clear that I will beat the AI and have pacified my kingdom I usually quit. The game at that point just seems to be about putting down stack after stack with little returns. This is hands down the biggest weakness in the game to me.

I would...

*Increase XP return when fighting enemy sov troops

*streamline the skill trees even further or adjust them to map size

*CREATE AN ARENA WHERE CHAMPIONS CAN HONE THEIR SKILLS

 

 

 

 

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May 2, 2013 1:29:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Total agreement with barrywhiteisalright.

There is always the point in the game (usually mid-game) where you crossed the bridge over raging fires and set foot on land that is not dangerous and challenging anymore and actually quite boring. You just walk around looking for any interesting stuff, but there is not a lot to write home about.

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May 2, 2013 1:33:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

XP split is the best type of game design when having the possibility to mix heroes and units in an army at your own choice. They already understood this when Heroes of Might and Magic IV was made.

I was chocked when the first beta build of Fallen Enchantress didn't have it back in the days. I have explained why in numerous threads like this before. Having XP-split in this game is a non-brainer, and I hope that's final.

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May 2, 2013 2:08:42 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting Darxim,

Combat champions still don't seem worth while to me.  I'd only want to have the champions together in the early game when I'm short on units.

That said, I don't like to see dramatic balance changes.  

Rather than remove the split entirely, why not make it less of a split?  Still reducing the XP gains, by not by such a large amount.  


X = base eXperince points
C = number of Champions (including the soverign) 
G = experience points Gained 

Current equation: X/C=G

New equation: X/C*1.5=G

So, if you would've gained 100 XP, but you had multiple champions, you'd get (old v new):

1 = 100 v 100
2 = 50 v 75
3 = 33 v 50
4 = 25 v 38
5 = 20 v 30
6 = 17 v 25 

So, you're still being punished for having multiple champions in your army, but to a notably (but not dramatically) lesser degree.

 

This sounds like a good solution, especially considering the power of henchmen in the current state.

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May 2, 2013 2:09:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting cwg9,
My opinion continues to be that forcing the player to the conclusion that parking most of your heroes in a city doing nothing for the whole game is the optimal choice is not fun game design. In this case I personally think the cure is worse than the disease.

That conclusion is bunk.  If you stick your champions in cities because they detract from the XP gain of your sov, you're min-maxing to get your sov to the highest level.  But that's not the optimal strategy.  You don't have or really need to do that.

If you think that's the only way to win, I think you are allowing your biases to influence your experience of the game.  You think that XP sharing makes leveling heroes impossible, because you had that experience in a beta, so you don't even try anymore.

Personally, I don't think about XP splitting much at all.  Lately I have been setting up my armies to be efficient but not overpowering (and picking the +XP traits -- which should NOT BE IN THE GAME) and having an pretty easy time getting my champs leveled up.

Quoting NaytchSG,
It's not a core mechanic, it's an equation or a modifier. One they've changed before, when Derek first helped put FE together.

This thread isn't about tweaking values.  It's about doing away with XP splitting which has been in the game since WoM.

Quoting Burress,
If Stardock has a phenomenal hit, a game that can grab even reviewers, who play game after game (or sometimes don't lol) to write about for a living, then that metacritic score tops 90, people who don't usually play these games buy it and like it. But reviewers don't play the modded version of games.

Brad and Dereck are likely far more cognizant of reviewers reaction to their games than I am, but I imagine that they put a lot of effort into ensuring that the reviewer experience is the best it can be.  (Or do you think that Stardock designed the game with XP sharing as a form of self-sabotage.)

My point above was that both sides of the XP-split argument have valid arguments, but in that circumstance the developer's opinion trumps

Again, I am not saying you don't have a point about slow-leveling and overlong trait-trees.  I think that Stardock has made steps in the latest releases of the Beta to address those very concerns.  There's still some work to do.

Stardock also displays a remarkably itchy trigger finger on releases.  They don't seem to schedule time for polish.  Anyways, they've got a lot to do in the next three weeks.  I doubt they'll do anything more on this issue than fiddle with their XP calculations.  They're certainly not going to scrap the entire system and rebuild/rebalance the entire game around it.

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May 2, 2013 2:11:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting phazonfreak,

Total agreement with barrywhiteisalright.

There is always the point in the game (usually mid-game) where you crossed the bridge over raging fires and set foot on land that is not dangerous and challenging anymore and actually quite boring. You just walk around looking for any interesting stuff, but there is not a lot to write home about.

I believe that's the point where you go from being concerned about the world to being concerned about your AI opponents.  And you're like "why should I worry about these clowns?"

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May 2, 2013 2:11:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Seems like some people think you can't have more heroes together just because of XP-split? Are you serious? It's about prioritizing for the situation. Even with the XP split it's very often a good strategy to have more heroes in an army, especially early game (Where it is almost ALWAYS a good thing to do). This is a strategy game, you are supposed to think and make some hard choices, not be maximum rewarded whatever you do.

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May 2, 2013 2:14:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

 

Sorry for doubble posting, just tried to edit the post, and pressed reply........

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May 2, 2013 2:47:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I've given this some more though and while I can support some sort of Hero stacking XP penalty, the current implementation of just dividing the XP equally is way too severe and completely discourages 2-3 Hero armies. What I would do is dramatically flatten the penalty curve. 

For example, given a hypothetical battle with 300 XP:

Current implementation:

1 Hero = 100% xp or 300 xp

2 heroes = 50% xp or 150 xp each

3 heroes = 33% xp or 100 xp each

4 heroes = 25% xp or 75 xp each

5 heroes = 20% xp or 60 xp each

6 heroes = 16% xp or 50 xp each

You can see clearly that the curve is very steep, as soon as you add a second champion you take a 50% penalty and the rate of XP penalty per hero slows down from there.

What I would do is try to flatten the curve with something more linear like this:

1 Hero = 100% xp or 300 xp

2 heroes = 80% xp or 240 xp each

3 heroes = 60% xp or 180 xp each

4 heroes = 40% xp or 120 xp each

5 heroes = 30% xp or 90 xp each

6 heroes = 20% xp or 60 xp each

On the off chance a player actually puts an army with 7-9 heroes, unlikely but perhaps possible, you probably want to set a minimum floor, maybe at 15% XP or thereabouts?

The net result is that the penalty is less severe overall. Maximizing one hero would still mean letting them do all the work and leaving all the others parked at home. However, if it worked like this, 2-3 Hero armies are penalized far less severely and would hopefully feel like a fun and viable option. 4-6 hero armies are still penalized pretty steeply, although still less than the current implementation, but it should be more than enough to discourage all hero stacks of doom.

Some of you will no doubt point out that this proposal effectively results in an XP multiplier, i.e. 2 heroes net 480 XP, 3 heroes net 540 XP, etc. This is true and my response is that I do not think this would harm game play, in fact I think it would make it more fun. It gives the player a choice on army composition, whether to maximize one hero, or have 2-3 champion armies leveling up a bit slower, or an all champion army that levels very slowly.

The other reason I don't think this is an issue is because regular troops currently multiply XP all the time since they are exempt from the XP splitting rule, leading in part to the perceived imbalance between troops and Heroes in the current implementation. Those of you who want no XP multiplication surely then also want to split XP with troops in the army as well in order to be consistent and fair? Personally I think such a change would slow down leveling far too severely and would not lead to fun gameplay.

In addition, I would suggest looking at tweaking the available XP on the board, making XP more abundant. Alternatively, or possibly in addition, I would look at maybe tweaking how hero leveling XP requirements scale, i.e. maybe make each additional level a little less XP expensive so heroes level up a little faster. Obviously all these changes require carefully study to make sure it's balanced, but I think it would be a big step in the right direction.

 

Tldr; This game needs Legendary Heroes!!! The current hero XP splitting penalty is far too severe and should be significantly reduced.

 

 

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May 2, 2013 2:52:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It's important to notice that you don't lose XP by having more heroes in an army, you just share it. It would be bad design if the total XP gained became huger thanx to having more heroes in an army. This would totally ruin trade-offs and strategy when it comes to your composing of armies.

Would be terrible game design indeed if I may say so.

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May 2, 2013 3:02:36 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting NorsemanViking,

It's important to notice that you don't lose XP by having more heroes in an army, you just share it. It would be bad design if the total XP gained became huger thanx to having more heroes in an army. This would totally ruin trade-offs and strategy when it comes to your composing of armies.

Terrible game design if I may say so.

There are tradeoffs and he mentioned it:  

It gives the player a choice on army composition, whether to maximize one hero, or have 2-3 champion armies leveling up a bit slower, or an all champion army that levels very slowly.

I'm also pretty darn sure there are many many games out there where their XP mechanic works in this manner, and most notably in MMOs (having more players grouped results in net higher xp-gained). Unlike FE, grouping up with your buddies and questing/killing stuff together comes with 0 tradeoffs from a game mechanics perspective - you don't even level slower since you're killing everything _more_ than twice as fast (Solo, you might be able to kill 1 mob at a time but grouped up, you might be able to AOE 5 mobs down at a time).


So it seems like you're saying all of these games including the King of MMOs WoW has terrible game design.

 

The greater problem, NorsemanViking, is that you're totally ignoring everything they have raised about player expectations about an RPG. I am nowhere as eloquent as the OP but I think he has raised a very valid point there - you should not be too obsessed with the maths and ignore the emotional aspect of the game. Games after all seek to establish an emotional connection with their players.

The comparison with D&D is moot, really. D&D doesn't have this whole concept of units and units being more than enough to carry the army on their own. You might as well compare it to XCOM if you're comparing to D&D, which, BTW, doesn't have an exp split.

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May 2, 2013 3:03:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Quoting NorsemanViking,

It's important to notice that you don't lose XP by having more heroes in an army, you just share it. It would be bad design if the total XP gained became huger thanx to having more heroes in an army. This would totally ruin trade-offs and strategy when it comes to your composing of armies.

Would be terrible game design indeed if I may say so.

 

Do you also think then that the XP should be split evenly with the regular troops too instead of just for Heroes? Is exempting troops from the XP split mechanic also "terrible game design"? 

 

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May 2, 2013 3:14:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The other thing to remember is that the new fame mechanic is the limitation on the number of heroes you can obtain.  Unless you really go out of your way to maximize fame, most folks are only getting 4-5 heroes in the average playthrough... I actually didn't get the Bacco the Beggar quest this game, now that I think of it.

 

So, with the fewer the heroes, the less stack of hero doom you can build...

And nice elucidation of your idea cwg9!

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May 2, 2013 3:18:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting cwg9,

 

Do you also think then that the XP should be split evenly with the regular troops too instead of just for Heroes? Is exempting troops from the XP split mechanic also "terrible game design"? 

 

 

Nope, because units level up differently and don't have the potential of heroes. Despite this the use of units must be encouraged.

 

All this works perfectly well and balances in the current system. If you want the champions to get more powerfull faster I think you are kicking the wrong horse (the XP-split). Personally I'd not like it if they became powerfull so fast that the game become unchallenging, so it was all about going arround with your super stack crushing everything in your way.

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May 2, 2013 3:55:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting barrywhiteisalright,


Once it is clear that I will beat the AI and have pacified my kingdom I usually quit. The game at that point just seems to be about putting down stack after stack with little returns. This is hands down the biggest weakness in the game to me.

 

This was the problem with FE. They solved the problem with LH - there is just a smaller problem of too many heroes to use. 

IF ONLY WE COULD MARRY OFF HEROES TO OTHER EMPIRES FOR DIPLOMACY, WE COULD USE THE USELESS HEROES TO MAKE HALF URXEN BABIES  PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE

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May 2, 2013 4:06:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting davrovana,

This was the problem with FE. They solved the problem with LH - there is just a smaller problem of too many heroes to use. 

IF ONLY WE COULD MARRY OFF HEROES TO OTHER EMPIRES FOR DIPLOMACY, WE COULD USE THE USELESS HEROES TO MAKE HALF URXEN BABIES  PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE

Lol at threadjack.

Lol at "they solved it".

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